Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
"Christ's love moves the world to reconciliation and unity"
Approximately twenty Disciples from the United States and Canada gathered with 5,000 Protestants and Orthodox Christians from all over the world in Karlsruhe, Germany, to engage one another at the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly. The Assembly provided opportunities to build relationships, worship together, share in global concerns, consider the ways in which the church can and should be present with God’s people and creation, and establish priorities for the WCC for the next eight years.
Global issues of common concern were prominent across the Assembly: climate change, indigenous persons’ rights, and a desire for just peace in areas of conflict, including Ukraine. These concerns are interrelated, and throughout the Assembly, voices on the margin (including indigenous, young people, and persons with disabilities) emphatically called on the WCC to work together and include more people at the table in order to tackle these difficult challenges.
At various gatherings, U.S. and Canada Disciples met with other Disciples and Churches of Christ from around the world, to highlight our global connection to each other and our history rooted in the Stone-Campbell movement. On Thursday September 1, participants from Disciples-affiliated communions around the world gathered together. Coming from Argentina, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Canada, and the United States, the time together provided an opportunity to meet one another and learn more about each other’s contexts and history.
Because the Assembly is a global gathering, Disciples had opportunities to engage with global theologians, including leaders from Faith and Order Commission, to hear some of the challenges and concerns from the ground and the struggle to be together at the Table. While comparatively small in numbers, Disciples contribute greatly and play an important role in the ecumenical movement, as we have throughout our history. Rev. Terri Hord Owens, Disciples General Minister and President, served as moderator of the Education and Ecumenical Formation subcommittee of the Programme Guidelines Committee during the Assembly, a committee that evaluates and gives oversight to the educational component of the WCC. In addition, she was elected to serve on the Central Committee of the WCC for the next eight years.
United States and Canada Disciples also gathered over dinner with Rev. Dr. Jerry Pillay, General-Secretary-Elect of the World Council of Churches and a member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, to hear some of the challenges facing the ecumenical movement today. Dr. Pillay talked about the WCC, what hopes and dreams he has for the global Church, and what keeps him engaged in the ecumenical movement. Even when sharing in the worship and work of the Assembly, the deeply ingrained theological, political, and social conflicts were obvious. Dr. Pillay noted that Disciples have played an important role leading to this Assembly, and discussed how he sees Disciples being even more engaged in the life of the whole ecumenical movement, one that can truly embody the more peaceful world we seek.
It is important for Disciples to be present in global and ecumenical settings, where so much is learned and shared. As Week of Compassion Executive Director Rev. Vy Nguyen shared at the end of the Assembly,
“The WCC uses the language of pilgrimage to articulate the journey of churches all over the world. A pilgrimage of justice. A pilgrimage of love. A pilgrimage that changes all of us. One afternoon I met with the General Secretary of ACT Alliance. We discussed the marginalization of communities around the world, the effects of climate change, and the consequences of colonialism. Then my phone started to buzz. The alerts were about the flooding in Mississippi and Pakistan. That was just the beginning and it wasn’t simply an idea. It reminded me that this work is urgent. This work is immediate.
…Humanitarian work is difficult with enormous implications. Pilgrimages require other people as it involves intentional collaboration and partnership. You never walk alone. I am grateful for this pilgrimage and the people we get to collaborate and engage with in order to make this world a more just and loving place.”
Please visit the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Facebook page for a series of photos and reflections
from the leaders, delegates and Week of Compassion sponsored seminarians
in attendance at the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany.
region / focus :